Going Beyond the Necessary

Joseph the Dreamer

Good morning,

Of all the people listed in the book of Genesis, the one name that sticks out above all is young Joseph. As you might remember, Joseph was not a liked sibling in Jacob’s home because he was given dreams for God about his family bowing down before him. These dreams coupled with the fancy coat of many colors given by Jacob to Joseph had all of the requirements for a bad storm in Jacob’s happy home. In a way, Jacob was just as responsible for the plan hatched against Joseph by his other brothers because he showed favoritism. As a father, I understand why such actions can cause problems in a home. Long story short, Joseph found himself a slave in Egypt instead of being eradicated because of God’s protection. When his brothers sold him the band of Midianites, they most likely thought, “let’s just see who bows before who”. The part the young men forgot was that God’s plans are, they almost never come about the way we humans think they will. Once Joseph was in Egypt, it would have been very easy for him to think, “so much for God’s plans” and then simply given up. Going Beyond the necessary means doing more than the minimal standards. As we’ll learn about Joseph in the next three points, we’ll get an idea why God chose him, how he kept his head above water and what it means for us today

Point 1 – Never lose sight of God’s promise – Joseph was given a promise in that above all of the sons of Jacob and Jacob himself, he was God’s anointed or “olive branch”. Joseph was transplanted into a foreign nation, a language he knew little of, and he was alone; sort of like going from “kingfish” to little minnow at the turn of a dime. Once in Egypt, Joseph could have bowed down to the king of Egypt in order to garner favor, get a plum job, and/or just be another sloth in the country. But, he did none of those things because, he knew who he was in Yahweh’s eyes and he knew it did not matter where he was, God’s mandate still rang true. The promises God gives us are always “yes and amen” (2nd Corinthians 1:20). Meaning no matter where we go, no matter how bad the place may appear to be, or how dire the circumstances, we can trust that God is still in control. When God fosters a dream in your life or you are given a precious promise or vision whether it be leading people, writing a magnum-opus, and/or singing/playing beautiful music or whatever it may be, do it with all of your heart (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Point 2 – Guard Your Heart at All Costs – Joseph had the wrong type of admirer – Potiphar’s wife. Potiphar was Captain of the Palace Guard and he had the power to cut Joseph’s head off and would have no qualms about it. Joseph had scruples though and wasn’t willing to transgress them even if no one knew about it. Unfortunately, even though he did the right thing by refusing the woman and running away in his birthday suit, he was still wrongly accused of raping Potiphar’s wife and ended up in the dungeon pending disposition. This circumstance could have been the catalyst to push Joseph into depression and then give up; yet, he chose to honor Yahweh by doing what was right and honest in the His eyes. Don’t let circumstances direct your focus because circumstances change moment-to-moment whereas God never changes (Malachi 3:6). If you are not aware, the enemy of the soul, The Devil, will always lead us into places to get us stuck and then, abandon us when we are the most vulnerable. Joseph could have had his way with Potiphar’s wife, and she would not have put up a fight until she was on the verge getting caught and then Joseph would have been charged with “Rape” what could he say? “Be very quiet, I’m sleepwalking”? When it comes to guarding our heart, going beyond the necessary means putting up firewalls around our life by prayer, application God’s commands and laws and never under any circumstance take them down. The world may never like what we do in life because we are called to walk 180 degrees out of sync with the world but, the world will stand up when they see the fruit from your life.

Point 3 – Make the most of a Bad Situation –

If there was an individual award given for having been dealt the worst possible hand, it would go to Joseph’s hands down. He was sold as a slave to Potiphar in Egypt. This position meant that he would be doing the dirty work; worst yet, his own family sold him there simply because he had a vision and he was “daddy’s favorite”. If anybody had a right to complain, it was Joseph. When he was with his family, he stood to get an inheritance as his father was very wealthy; now, he would get a slave’s inheritance which is a mere glance at the other people’s riches.  I find it amazing that knowing all he went through he never found a reason to seek revenge or even try to get even with his brothers. Instead, he put his hand to the plow and never looked back. While in Potiphar’s employment, he distinguished himself above all others so that his master never once worried about anything. While in the dungeon, he was once again elevated to a place of leadership and the dungeon master never worried about anything because of Joseph. If you notice, Joseph put his skills to work in the kingdom from day 1. Joseph did not exempt himself from the command to live for God no matter where you are or how ungodly the place may be. Those of you who are prior military know what it is like to be stationed in the arm-pits of the world yet know you have a job to do so, you must do it. By putting his hand to the plow, he was able to save a nation, bring his family to a place of provision, and excelled beyond all expectations. Joseph could have just easily ignored God’s call on his life and said nothing to Pharaoh but then again, his family would have probably died in the baron dessert due to starvation.

Let us never forget the young man Joseph who had every excuse to abandon his faith in God. His brothers sold him out, Potiphar’s wife accused him of rape, and the good that should be afforded to the one living righteously was not. Yet, he put his heart and soul into serving his master even if the man believed a lie. In prison, he should have surrendered his will to live yet, he chose instead to live for God even in the vilest of places and the “signs followed the believer” (Mark 16: 17-18). God’s word compels us to go beyond the minimal standards of life but will never force us to do so; instead, he gives us his word that “I will never abandon you nor forsake you. I will be with you to the end of your life” (Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6). From this promise, we can either capitulate as to go beyond what is expected or accept bare minimum standards. Standards are learned behaviors and, once ingrained, they become our way of life. You can change the path you are on if you are willing to do the work that is required.

The American Dream is that any man or woman, despite his or her background, can change their circumstances and rise as high as they are willing to work. Fabrizio Moreira.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. 
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. 
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. 
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. 
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny. — Chinese proverb, author unknown

Father,

Thank you for the precious lessons of Joseph. You desire so much more from us than just the “bare minimum”. However, if that is all we reach for, it is all we will have and all we will be remembered for. You give us the power to live the life we want but we are warned that our actions have consequences and we will never outrun them. Joseph’s brothers were forgiven but the damage was done, and the brothers all paid a high price for it. Watch over my family, friends, State, nation, and the world today.

Yours for the victory

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net